• 3D Robotics' new drone can follow you around, carry a mirrorless camera

    3D Robotics is not about to let DJI hog all the press with its wild Inspire 1 Drone, so it just revealed its own semi-pro model: the X8+. The 8-prop UAV is designed to carry GoPro or lightweight mirrorless cameras, while offering a fully automated flight control system starting at $1,350 (without a gimbal or camera). That price may tempt pro or semi-pro users away from DJI's (admittedly cool), retractable gear model, which runs $2,900 with a built-in gimbal and 4K camera. But unlike DJI's turnkey drone, 3DR is positioning the X8+ as a customizable ship aimed not only at cinematographers, but surveyors or miners too.

  • Chromecast works better with Chromebooks, looks better with NASA

    After a few months of testing, the feature that allows Chrome OS users to stream videos from Google Drive storage – like the free 1TB allotted to new owners – to a Chromecast is now available to (almost) everyone. An update on the stable channel this week pushed it to most people, with the exception of a few devices: the Dell Chromebook 11, HP Chromebook 14, Acer C720 and the Toshiba Chromebook. One thing everyone with the Chromecast dongle can appreciate are additional backgrounds, this time provided by NASA. To access them, pop open the Chromecast app on your mobile device, select "Backdrop", go to settings and choose NASA.

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  • Here's how to 3D print using mashed bananas

    We've seen many people use food as 3D printer feed in the past, such as chocolates, candies and even ice cream. But can you imagine 3D printing anything using bananas? Sounds hard, if not, well, bananas – but 3Digital Cooks' founder Luis Rodriguez Alcalde isn't one to shy away from a good challenge. So, for his latest project, he explored how to print out solid objects using banana mush and his self-designed extruder for 3D printers called PLYUMP. As you can imagine, pureed banana can't hold shape on its own, so Alcalde had to use potato starch as a thickener. His first attempt ended up lumpy and brownish, and honestly, quite terrifying to look at.

  • Bake your turkey to the tune of Spotify's Thanksgiving playlists

    Most people in the US are getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving next Thursday, November 27th. Typically, this holiday is mostly about eating a ton of food, watching American football, spending quality time with the family and, most importantly, being thankful for all the good things that happened during the year. But music is very valuable too. As such, Spotify has launched its "Time for Turkey" playlist creator, hoping to help during the cooking process and make the time go by slightly faster.

  • Fitness wearable stats illustrate what you thought: we're less active when it's cold

    It's hard to fight nature. We mammals have an instinctual urge to hibernate when the mercury starts dropping, and thanks to activity trackers we have some data to prove that theory holds true (if we actually get that sleep is another story). By correlating pedometer stats culled from "hundreds of thousands" of Jawbone Up users with weather info from their respective areas, the outfit was able to discern that there's an ideal temperature range for physical activity. Because people typically have to get up and around during the work week, Jawbone instead focused its study on weekends. You know, when we have an actual choice of whether or not we're going to get off the couch.

  • Yahoo will be Firefox's default search engine for the next five years

    Remember when Yahoo was your go-to search engine for browsing the web? It might be again soon, at least if you're a Firefox user. Mozilla and Yahoo just announced a five year deal to make Yahoo the web browser's default search engine, supplanting Google as the top item in Firefox's search bar in the United States. Mozilla says this is part of providing a more "local" experience – until now, the company defaulted to Google search regardless of the user's country. Now the default search engine will be assigned by region: Yahoo for the United States, Yandex search for Russia and Baidu for China. Each region will have the ability to switch to other local options as well, giving Googlers a chance to switch back if they so desire.

  • MIT's nanotech has a future in monitoring tumors and diagnosing illnesses

    A team of MIT researchers have developed nanoparticle sensors that could eventually be used to monitor tumors or other diseases, as well as act as a tool to diagnose illnesses. These nanoparticles are made of polymer chains that can bind to the sensors a doctor needs. For instance, in the scientists' tests, they used an MRI contrast agent called nitroxide along with Cy5.5, which glows when it encounters vitamin C, as sensors. These individual strands then merge to form the structure you see above, which the researchers call "branched bottlebrush polymer." As you can guess, the bottlebrush polymer the team developed for the study can perform MRI and detect vitamin C, as detailed in their paper recently published in Nature. Since nitroxide grabs electrons from the vitamin and remains inactive in its presence, the scientists don't get confused by the two different signals.

  • Netflix is expanding to Australia and New Zealand in March

    Finally, viewers down under won't have to rely on proxies and other intermediaries to get their streaming video fix, as Netflix announced it will launch in Australia and New Zealand next year. There's no word on pricing, but the service will arrive in March with its slate of originals (including Marvel's Daredevil, shown above) and 4K video support. We'll have to see what the library looks like to know if residents will be happy with just what they're offered locally, but for now it looks like ISPs will have to offer more than a "Global Mode VPN" to attract customers.

  • Computers can now describe images using language you'd understand

    Software can now easily spot objects in images, but it can't always describe those objects well; "short man with horse" not only sounds awkward, it doesn't reveal what's really going on. That's where a computer vision breakthrough from Google and Stanford University might come into play. Their system combines two neural networks, one for image recognition and another for natural language processing, to describe a whole scene using phrases. The program needs to be trained with captioned images, but it produces much more intelligible output than you'd get by picking out individual items. Instead of simply noting that there's a motorcycle and a person in a photo, the software can tell that this person is riding a motorcycle down a dirt road. The software is also roughly twice as accurate at labeling previously unseen objects when compared to earlier algorithms, since it's better at recognizing patterns.